Taking a Position

Nine people died, two adults and seven students, in the Mount Hood tragedy of 1986, the worst disaster ever on the mountain. The following editorial comes from from The Seattle Times.

After reading the article, make a list of all the reasons supporting the idea that students should not be allowed to take part in such a dangerous activity as the Mount Hood climb.

Now make a list of all the reasons given as to why students should be allowed to climb Mount Hood.

What Do You Think?

Searching for lessons of Mount Hood climb

MAY 16, 1986

IN THE aftermath of the Mount Hood climbing tragedy lie many potential lessons. One on which all can agree: the importance of well-trained and dedicated search-and-rescue teams, many of them volunteers, who worked long hours in harsh conditions.

Beyond that, agreement may be elusive. Some will say that mountain climbing is just crazy, or that young teen-agers simply shouldn't take part in such dangerous ventures. But 10,000 people of all ages and abilities climb Mount Hood every year; until now, only 50 lives had been lost there since 1896.

Among major Pacific Northwest peaks, Mount Hood is generally considered a fairly safe and easy climb. It is the second-most-popular glaciated-mountain to climb in the world, behind Japan's Mount Fuji.

Surely many teen-age activities are far more risky; witness the automobile-accident statistics for young drivers. Youngsters cannot -- and should not -- be insulated from all worldly dangers. Mountaineering carries risks, but also great rewards -- building such vital values as self-confidence and cooperation.

Others will say these students needed more extensive preparation. But the Oregon Episcopal School's four-year ``Basecamp'' course included much more instruction in basic climbing and survival techniques than most amateur climbers ever receive. Members of the school's sophomore classes have made 35 successful climbs of Mount Hood over the past several years.

This climbing party, with a ratio of one adult -- two of them very experienced, veteran climbers -- for every five teen-agers was not unusual for Mount Hood. The equipment they carried was pretty standard for what is normally a one-day climb.

May and June -- after the winter-storm season but before summer turns snow to slush and increases rockfall danger -- are generally the best months for climbing Mount Hood.

The unpredictable element this time: a sudden, severe spring storm that brought ``whiteout'' conditions, every climber's nightmare. Even the most experienced and well-trained climbers might have had trouble in such high winds and heavy snow.

Among the Basecamp's programs goals were to teach students ``appreciation and respect for wilderness'' and how to ``deal with the complexities of the real world.'' Both of those lessons -- from a harsh teacher, nature -- have been taught this week.

© Copyright 1986 The Seattle Times Company. Posted with permission from the editorial pages of May 16, 1986.